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 April 23, 2020


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In my most recent newsletter, I shared with you my growing concerns that, although your efforts to help "flatten the curve" have been working, the side effects have been severe already and are coming to outweigh the benefits.


Under enormous public pressure, the Evers administration finally admitted that merely extending the restrictions indefinitely is not going to be sustainable.  He released a plan this week aimed at reopening our economy in phases.  Unfortunately, instead of listening to you, his plan creates a series of new obstacles that will make it harder, not easier, to reopen the state.  And, unfortunately, his one-size-fits-all statewide restrictions that he has renewed through Memorial Day weekend have not been relaxed since you voiced your objections when that news broke a week ago.


The governor's new plan postpones reopening until we gain the capacity to conduct about 12,000 COVID-19 lab tests per day.  (No details are provided as to how or when we might achieve this massive expansion.  For perspective: there have only been about 50,000 total tests conducted in our state over the past two months.)  But we're only using about 20 percent of our existing testing capacity as it is, because the demand just isn't there.


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The governor claims that his plan aligns with CDC guidelines and even approximates the guidelines proposed by President Trump.  In reality, his plan expands on these guidelines unnecessarily.  He proposes hiring 1,000 new staff to try to track down everyone in the state who may have been exposed to the virus; meanwhile, we're observing that COVID-19 hospitalizations are trending down, not up, even though reports are arriving from around the country that the virus may have been already circulating among our population for much longer than we previously understood.


The governor's plan would continue to ban visits to nursing homes and hospitals until a vaccine is found.  Last I heard, the best-case estimates are that it will be 18 months before we have a vaccine... if we ever find one at all.




Let me be clear: I do not claim to have all the right answers all figured out.  I don't think the Evers administration does either, nor would I expect that they could all by themselves.  Unfortunately, despite legislators' repeated requests to participate with them to work together and offer improvements toward a workable plan that we can all support, their continued orders make it clear that they and they alone will decide how to proceed, without any input from you or me.




I have heard from hundreds of folks in Sheboygan County who have expressed a wide range of views as to whether the restrictions have been too tight, too loose or just right.  The statutes provide an emergency rule-making process that is intended to provide the administration and the legislature with a way to promptly cooperate on solutions during crises.  But because the administration has chosen to ignore that mechanism and instead issue unilateral orders, there is effectively no opportunity for your voice to be heard.  That's not how the legislative process works, and it's not how the decisions should be made now, either.


I do not support immediately cutting off all the cautious measures that have successfully, thankfully, kept the outbreak from becoming many times worse than it could have been; I don't think anybody is seriously proposing an immediate end to restrictions.  As I mentioned in last week's newsletter, I acknowledge that we'll have to keep taking some medicine for a while even after we've begun to feel better, if you will.


But our state is a diverse place.  We have communities who have experienced zero coronavirus illnesses.  We have many counties who have seen fewer than 10 cases.  Even in places with a higher rate of exposure, we can't function without the businesses who employ us; the farms who grow our food; the recreation that humans need; or the shared experiences where we strengthen and draw strength from one another.  Public places such as grocery stores and gas stations have illustrated that we can maintain sensible safety precautions without destroying our livelihoods.  All of us are desperate to find some certainty in these uncertain times.  And so I continue to urge Governor Evers to reconsider his approach, bring together a much broader coalition of willing partners and confront this crisis more effectively.


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Office of Representative Terry Katsma
State Capitol, Room 306 East
P.O. Box 8952
Madison, WI 53708

(608) 266-0656
Rep.Katsma@legis.wisconsin.gov |